Section 314: Members’ power to require circulation of statements
560.This section, together with section 315, replaces sections 376 and 377 of the 1985 Act and provides a right for members to require the company to circulate a statement of up to 1,000 words. The key policy change is that where the statement relates to a resolution or other matter to be dealt with at a public company’s AGM and is received before the company’s financial year-end, the shareholders are not required to cover the costs of circulating the statement. There are two other notable changes. The first is that the shares relied on to trigger the circulation of a statement must in each case carry rights to vote on the relevant resolution rather than just at the meeting. The second is that requests in electronic form are permitted.
Section 315: Company’s duty to circulate members’ statement
561.This section replaces the remainder of sections 376 and 377 of the 1985 Act and specifies what the company is to do when it is required to circulate a members’ statement. The statement must be circulated in the same manner as notice of the meeting and at the same time, or as soon as reasonably practicable, after the company gives notice of the meeting. Where the company fails to comply with the provisions of this section an offence is committed by every officer of the company who is in default.
Section 316: Expenses of circulating members’ statement
562.This section provides that the expenses of complying with section 315 need not be paid by the members if the meeting to which the request relates is a public company AGM and a sufficient number of requests are received before the company’s year-end. Otherwise the company’s expenses will have to be met by the members who requested the circulation of the statement unless the company resolves otherwise. In this case, the members requesting the statement must deposit a sum to cover the company’s costs (unless the company has resolved otherwise).
Section 317: Application not to circulate members’ statement
563.This section replaces section 377(3) of the 1985 Act. It enables the court on application to relieve the company of an obligation to circulate a members’ statement if in its opinion the right to require circulation is being abused.